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I was reading the Japanese sci-fi novel Yukikaze (greatly recommended btw) again and I came across a detail that describes that the stick of the fighter plane the main character is flying is fixed in place and does not tilt around like those in a normal airplane, and instead it can detect the pressure exerted on it by the pilot changing their grip on the stick as they flew the plane. It claims that "under the correct conditions it could execute a pilot’s will with lightning speed." Would this design actually be viable and useful? The book does describe an issue where after sustaining an injury that causes the pilot to lose most feeling in his right arm he puts too much pressure into the stick without realizing it and caused the plane to fly unstably, but I imagine this would still happen with a normal control stick if you couldn't feel your arm.

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This is an actual design, used in the early iterations of the F-16 fighter jet. The ideology behind the design was much the same you described, with the additions on the "solid" stick mitigating the effects of G-forces on controlling the plane.

The design received much critique from the pilots, eventually leading to re-designing the stick such that it had some movement in it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Dynamics_F-16_Fighting_Falcon#Cockpit_and_ergonomics

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  • $\begingroup$ Oh I never knew they actually made one in real life, that's really cool. Is there any place I can find out more about this one that was fitted on the F-16? $\endgroup$
    – BryBuriya
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 8:34
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    $\begingroup$ It was a pretty horrible idea actually, and USAF test pilots agreed. It makes as much sense as a stationary steering wheel in your car, or fixed handlebars on a bicycle. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ still, this fixed stick allows almost immediate change in input direction since there's no distance to travel for the stick. should rather be compared with a kite surf sail under strong wind high speed travel : under these conditions the sail becomes the most relatively stationary part of the system. pulling on the sail mostly brings the windsurfer's body closer to it $\endgroup$
    – user21228
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ @user721108, If there's a lot of slop in the controls then that's a problem. But, easily taken up, and not worth the massive compromise of an immovable input device. Humans need tactile feedback to control rate and magnitude. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ The rigid stick also took away the 'feel' of the aircraft. In a normal aircraft with pilot controls connected to the control surfaces, you end up with both deflections and stick forces that are nearly linear with g-forces. I.e. stick angle and stick force per g are meaningful quantities. A pilot can feel how far they are deflecting and they can feel how much the control surface is pushing back. Most fly by wire systems work hard to duplicate this feel. The rigid F-16 system actually lead to pilot injuries. They would blow out their tendons pulling so hard. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 20:51

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